UNWTO supports easing of travel restrictions

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is urging government to lift or ease travel restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so, in a bid for the tourism sector to aid in the global socioeconomic recovery amid the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 pandemic.

In a report, the UNWTO emphasized that 96 percent of all worldwide destinations have introduced full or partial restrictions since the end of January.

It added that around 90 destinations have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while a further 44 are closed to certain tourists depending on country of origin.

“COVID-19 has impacted travel and tourism like no other event before in history. Governments have put public health first and introduced full or partial restrictions on travel,”UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

“With tourism suspended, the benefits the sector brings are under threat: millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in the fields of equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. UNWTO therefore calls on governments to continuously review travel restrictions and ease or lift them as soon as it is safe to do so,” Pololikashvili said.

The UNWTO report highlighted that global regions are largely consistent in their response to COVID-19. In Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East, 100 percent of destinations have adopted COVID-19-related restrictions since January 2020.

Meanwhile, in the Americas, 92 percent of destinations have taken similar steps, while in Europe, the proportion is 93 percent as of April 6.

Apart from the easing of travel restrictions, Pololikashvili also urged governments to take action and give the right support to their respective tourism sectors.

“This crisis has shown the strength of solidarity across borders. But nice words and gestures will not protect jobs or help the many millions of people whose lives are dependent on a thriving tourism sector,”Pololikashvili said.

“Governments have an opportunity to recognize tourism’s unique ability to not only provide employment, but also to drive equality and inclusivity. Our sector has proven its ability to bounce back and help societies recover. We ask that tourism is now given the right support to once again lead recovery efforts,” he said.

Moreover, the UNWTO said that the Global Tourism Crisis Committee is working on a recovery plan for the tourism sector.

“This will be centered around open borders and enhanced connectivity while also working to raise consumer and investor confidence,” it said.

In line with helping countries get back to growth, the UNWTO said it would soon be launching a new recovery technical assistance package.

This will enable its member states to build capacity and better market and promote their tourism sector in the challenging months ahead.

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